POLITICS

Manitoba Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen to resign seat for public relations job

06/28/2012 12:52 EDT | Updated 08/28/2012 05:12 EDT
WINNIPEG - Manitoba's Opposition leader is leaving politics for a private-sector job that will see him spending a lot of time in Alberta.

Hugh McFadyen announced Thursday that he is resigning his legislature seat as of July 30 to take a job with Toronto-based DFH Public Affairs. The change will mean a lot of time on the road for the 45-year-old father of two as he heads up the firm's new Calgary office.

"Our home is here in Manitoba. We are planning, at least for the time being, to stay based here, but what it will mean is I'll have to spend some time going back and forth," McFadyen said.

He had already announced his plan to step down as leader of the Progressive Conservatives following last fall's provincial election that saw the Tories stall at 19 of 57 legislature seats.

It was McFadyen's second kick at the can after being elected party leader in 2006. Under his leadership, the Tories increased their share of the vote, but failed to put a dent in the majority the NDP has held since 1999.

McFadyen said he has no regrets, but the 2011 election was a bitter pill.

"That's obviously a significant point of disappointment. But with that said, everybody encounters disappointment in life from time to time, and you just have to pick yourself up and keep going, and I'm certainly excited about the next chapter."

The resignation means Premier Greg Selinger will have to call a byelection in McFadyen's Fort Whyte constituency in south Winnipeg within a year.

Selinger said Thursday no decision has been made on when the vote will be held.

In a written statement, he paid tribute to McFadyen as a leader who could rise above political disputes."Whenever the time has come to put aside our partisan differences, Mr. McFadyen has been more than up to the task," Selinger said.

The Fort Whyte seat, one of the few safe Tory areas in Winnipeg, offers an opening for Brian Pallister. Pallister, a former provincial and federal politician, does not currently have a legislature seat. He is the only candidate to enter the Tory leadership race so far. He will be acclaimed by July 26 unless someone else makes it a race.

In his new job, McFadyen will offer policy and strategic advice to businesses involved in mergers and acquisitions. It's a natural fit for the former lawyer, who performed similar duties in Toronto and England before returning to Winnipeg a decade ago.